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Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg Apologizes To Parents Of Victims Of Online Exploitation In Heated Senate Hearing

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 31: Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee at the Dirksen Senate Office Building on January 31, 2024 in Washington, DC. The committee heard testimony from the heads of the largest tech firms on the dangers of child sexual exploitation on social media. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive of Meta, apologized to families who said their children were harmed by social media use during a heated hearing on Capitol Hill on Wednesday.

 

The apology came as Zuckerberg, whose firm owns social media platforms Facebook and Instagram, answered questions at a U.S. Senate Judiciary hearing on the impact of social media on children.

The hearing looked at child sexual exploitation online, and also included CEOs from Discord, Snap, X and TikTok, and featured a video of children speaking about their experiences with online bullying, abuse and more.

 

Committee chair Dick Durbin bashed the platforms for failing to protect children, and Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham told Zuckerberg that he had “blood on his hands” from a “product that’s killing people.” Families also attended the hearing, some holding signs sharing their children’s stories.

 

When Zuckerberg was asked by Republican Sen. Josh Hawley if he would like to apologize to victims harmed by his product, the Meta CEO addressed families in attendance directly.

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“I’m sorry for everything you have all been through,” Zuckerberg said. “No one should go through the things that your families have suffered and this is why we invest so much and we are going to continue doing industry-wide efforts to make sure no one has to go through the things your families have had to suffer.”

 

Zuckerberg and other social media CEOs touted their child safety procedures online. Meta has previously said that it has spent $5 billion on safety and security in 2023.

 

The CEOs also said they would work with lawmakers, parents, nonprofits and law enforcement to protect minors. Zuckerberg declined to commit to Hawley’s suggestion that he set up a victim’s compensation fund.

 

A growing number of lawmakers are urging measures to curb the spread of child sexual abuse images online and to hold technology platforms better accountable to safeguard children. The Senate hearing is part of an effort to pass legislation after years of regulatory inaction by Congress.

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